"The kids are excited to be home from school and want to play instead of eat. They may be tired and cranky and want to eat on the couch in front of the T.V. And one child may want to eat and the other doesn’t."
If this sounds like a scene in your home, you’re not alone. Many parents agree. With crazy schedules and all the activities families are involved in, we often get into a mealtime rut. That’s why the American Dietetic Association recently launched www.kidseatright.org to provide tips for shopping, cooking and eating right.
Parents play a key role in their children’s eating habits. National Nutrition Month is celebrated in March and this year’s theme, "Eat Right With Color," encourages parents to take time to make sure their kids are getting all the nutrients they need by choosing foods with a variety of colors.
According to a report in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, the majority of children in the U.S. do not meet the recommended 2 1/2 cups of vegetables and 1 1/2 cups of fruit a day. In addition, the 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee confirmed that children don’t get enough fiber, vitamin D, calcium or potassium. How can parents make sure their children get all the foods and nutrients they need? Consider these creative ways to help your kids "Eat Right with Color":
Include more whole grains:
· Cereals, breads, crackers and pastas
Make fruits and vegetables easy to access:
· Grab on the go: carrots, apple slices, orange slices
· Add more color at all meals: add shredded carrots or squash to spaghetti sauce or red grapes to a salad
Increase calcium and potassium foods:
· Have a cup of milk at all meals
· Grab on the go: yogurt cups, string cheese, cheese slices
Help them get enough protein:
· Hard boiled egg on a stick, peanut butter sandwiches, yogurt with fruit
Eat as a family at the dinner table.
· If your children see you eating a variety of nutritious foods, they’re more likely to try them.
Let your child explore at the grocery store.
· Challenge your child to put one food of each color in the cart from throughout the store.
· Allow them to pick one fruit or vegetable to take home and try.
Let your children help cook.
· Wash vegetables
· Rinse berries
· Tear lettuce
· Cut up fruits and vegetables
· Cook with the microwave oven
Megan Long is a dietetic intern at Texas Health Resources Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas who completed a community nutrition rotation with Neva in February 2011.